In the letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians, after having spoken to his readers about the coming salvation of us by Christ our Lord, Saint Paul says to his readers: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.
These are beautiful words and ideas. The Philippians were non-Jewish pagans who lived in what is now Greece. They differed from Paul in race, religion, and nationality. About the only thing he had in common with them is that he could speak their language, since Greek had spread over all that area, and Paul, being from Asia Minor, spoke it. He preached to them, and some of them believed in the gospel which he taught, were baptized, and became one of the first Christian communities in Europe. He was delighted with their faith, their acceptance of his preaching, their baptism, and now their lives of Christian virtue and holiness. They have become his “joy and crown.” I can identify with that happiness on the part of Saint Paul. During the years of my priesthood, I have taught many children and adults; I have baptized many babies and received many adults into the Church; I have prepared many couples for marriage and then officiated at their weddings. Many of these I have been able to keep up with, and it is such a joy to know that the seed which the Lord sowed in their hearts through my ministry has blossomed and borne fruit.
I’m sure that you who are parents and whose children have been faithful to the religious teachings that you imparted know what I mean. Nowadays, in nearly every family there are apostates who have turned their backs upon God or our Divine Lord and his Church. But there are those who have remained faithful. They are your joy and your crown, so you, too, can identify with Saint Paul in his joy expressed in this letter to his Philippian converts. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.